17 February 2009
If you know what song the title line comes from, you'll understand why I chose it for this post in a second. If not, well, listen to the radio more often, would you? Yesterday, I got up at about 5:00am in order to drive to Dobson High School in Mesa to stand in line to get a ticket to see the President Barack Obama speak there on Wednesday (tomorrow). --------------------------------- Interjection for rant on intolerance: Now, I know what you're thinking: why on Earth did a former College Republican, member of Arizona Victory 2006 for the AZGOP, Republican congressional intern, and PR assistant for four 2008 GOP campaigns go stand in a line with a bunch of Democrats to hear a Democratic president speak about his bloated government spending bill at a Mesa high school at 5 in the morning? My answer is threefold: 1. How often do you get the chance to see the President of the United States speak in your hometown (unless you live in the DC area, I suppose)? Democrat, Republican, whatever - I respect the Office of the President and the person who is in that job, even though I may disagree with some or most of his policies. If you're not secure enough in your beliefs to understand that, then I feel sorry for you as a Republican or Democrat or other party member, and I hope you take some time to reflect on what you're insecure about. 2. The President will be discussing the stimulus bill which recently passed Congress and about the housing crisis. Since this bill WILL be signed into law in a matter of hours, isn't it just a little bit important to hear how he plans to implement the policies in the bill? Isn't it important to hear how this bill will impact the next four years, at least, of our government? If for no other reason than it will showcase what flaws there are in the plan and where improvements can and should be made? 3. As a political science major in college, one of the most important things I was taught was to be impartial in analyzing data - legislation, research, etc. How can I be impartial in critiquing the stimulus bill if I don't know how the President plans to use it to stimulate the economy? Now, a lot of people I know have fallen into three categories of criticism for my wanting to go to the speech: people like former or current College Republicans who are "surprised" I'd go to the speech, Republican friends of mine who jokingly (at least I hope so) call me a traitor to my party and my ideology, and Democrats who think it's cool I am open-minded (and who also joke that I'm coming over to the dark side). I don't understand the people in the first group who find it surprising I'd do something like this - I'm interested in politics. Both sides. The world isn't black and white, Dem or GOP, yes or no. To fight something you first have to understand it. I feel sorry for the people who don't even try. End of interjection. ------------------------------------ Anyway, I got up at 5am and drove out to the high school with a big, thick coat (it was cold), a camp chair (4 hours sitting on the ground didn't appeal to me), and a book to read when the sun came up. I was a good quarter mile away from the administration doors, where the tickets were being handed out standing in line with a woman (who'd pretty much rolled out of bed like me and had also brought reading material, a chair, and a blanket), a Hawaiian gentleman with dreadlocks, and a couple of Dobson High students. For the first couple hours until around 7:30am, it was really, really cold, and we all were just there shivering and making small talk. The atmosphere was much like any line I've stood in to get a ticket to a GOP event - most people were talking about anything BUT politics, a few were remarking on why the opposite party was less than their favorite, and everyone was smiling and excited at the prospect of getting in the door. Around 8am, some people from the front of the line came back to tell us that they had taken it upon themselves to ensure order and had given numbers to the first 535 people in line (I remember the number because it's the number of people in the House and Senate combined). They also said that considering there were only 400 tickets available, anyone over #500 should probably just leave because we were wasting our time. In fact, that's probably the reason I got one of those tickets, because so many people in front of me left! There were in actuality about 600 tickets handed out, and I was number 575. They opened the gates and began letting people enter about 9:30am, and the line moved slowly and steadily as 20 people at a time were let through. At this point, we didn't know how many tickets there were, so we were on the bubble waiting to see if we would be able to make it. As time went by, rumors from the front of the line were that there were actually about 600 tickets available to the people in line, and my group began to get excited, because our counts had put us at about #570, just inside the margin. Finally, at about 11:30am, we were at the front of the line and were waiting our turn to enter when they stopped to count exactly how many tickets were left. The guy counting people came out and said "If I point at you, you're going in." I was one of those last few people, had to sign for my ticket, and came out to see a bunch of people still mobbing the security officers there trying to plead their way into a ticket and getting interviewed by the press about how it felt to be turned away. I confess myself a bit worried about making it back to my car without incident, seeing as how obsessive people are about President Obama. There were a couple times there I thought I might get mugged for my ticket. But nothing happened. After that, I went home, called a friend of mine who really wished he could have gotten a ticket, got criticized by every member of the GOP in Arizona it seems, got some support from a fellow Republican NOT in Arizona, and went and played Rock Band with Scott, Travis, Abigail, and Kim until about 9:30pm. I will post how the event went tomorrow with any pictures I am able to take.
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 13:39